Pedalshift Project 232: Handling Bike Route Detours & Closures

The Pedalshift Project 232: Handling Bike Route Detours & Closures

Detours and closures are a part of bike touring, but how do you handle it? On this edition, five things to think about on how to handle bike route detours and closures without losing your cool.

Pedalshift Project 232: Handling Bike Route Detours & Closures

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Handling Bike Route Detours & Closures

Me in the trees in 2016 just south of the outage, then the 2021 outage:

trees off CA Hwy 1
CA Hwy 1 outage

  • The C&O will sometimes have issues (MM52 washout, Big Slackwater)
  • My experience on the OTET near Akron (unannounced detour)
  • This is common. What’s the best bet?

1 – Attitude
Routes are not sacrosanct. They are also subject to evolution, so don’t go into any tour with the feeling that it’s ruined if you can’t roll every single inch the way it’s been done in the past.

2- Your ride is the experience, not the map
Folks who through hike major trails deal with stuff like this all the time. Even if the route deviates from past years, one still is hiking the AT. Fires, floods, etc. make the trail a dynamic thing… think of it that way for bicycle touring too

3 – To prep or not
This gets into philosophies… I prep, others ride what the road gives them. Neither is superior… a preparer may know what the options are ahead of any issue, but a ride what the road gives you type may be more mentally prepared for outages. Embrace who you are!

4 – Ask locals
There may be far better options than what you can tell from a map. Ask folks in the area… you may be surprised at the outcome (better route than you planned… an offer for a fast forward around the outage, etc.)

5 – Keep safe
There may be a temptation to YOLO your way through an outage. That might be ok. Or it might be reckless and a real risk to your safety, and then the first responders’ safety to haul your ass out. Be reasonable and remember outages generally mean you are trespassing if you barrel through them.

Thoughts on the specific outages


  • not a lot I can recommend for lodging on the MD side
  • look into shuttles to hotels semi-nearby the trail (there might be a lone B&B or Airbnb option nearby?)
  • Consider revamping your miles so your lodging straddles the Leesburg night
  • Hope public pressure gets the VA farm folks to take the money for the easement 😉

Hwy 1

  • CalTrans is on it… more of the road opened recently
  • It will be fixed, just a question of when
  • Pacific Coast route season seems to be narrower than ever… road closures from mud slides in rainy season and then smoke closures from fire season.
  • Be flexible, optimize your options (know your fast forwards, towns with transit options, ability to ship your bike, etc.)

Bottom Line

  • Our next tours are going to have a lot of energy behind them since we had so many plans scuttled due to COVID.
  • Remember outages happen and they are not ruining your trip, just throwing a curveball and maybe making it more memorable

As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like this spring’s DC to Cincinnatti bike tour! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at

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You’ve been hearing about Jason Kent and his music for many fine episodes. Sunfields has a new album in 2021, AND Jason has a new solo album in 2021, AND his first solo album is now streaming on Spotify, including America, the Pedalshift theme. Go listen!